Ground Rules for Effective Meetings

Posted On: July 19

We’ve all been stuck in a bad meeting. The agenda and the purpose of the meeting? Unclear. You arrive on time only to have it start ten minutes late. It only takes one person to set the tone of the meeting.


Below you will find my essential ground rules to run an effective meeting:

1. Hold meetings only when they are absolutely required.

2. Make the meeting objectives clear. A meeting must have a specific and defined purpose. Standing meetings with vague goals are most often a waste of time.

3. Only invite people who genuinely need to be in the meeting.

4. Create an agenda that lays out everything you plan to cover, along with a timeline that allows a certain number of minutes to each item and email it to people in advance.

5. Send out key information (such as financial or sales numbers) before the meeting so everyone can study it and you don’t waste precious time listening to reports. Team members should come prepared to ask specific questions about the information and then move on to the next agenda item.

6. Most of the meeting should be spent making decisions and focusing on future actions, not past results.

7. Stick to your schedule. Always start and end on time.

8. Appoint a meeting facilitator to keep things on track (typically the person who called the meeting) but remember that the success of the meeting is everyone’s responsibility.

9. Do not schedule any meeting to last longer than an hour. The mind can only absorb what the butt can endure.

10. Everyone participates. No one dominates.

11. Ban technology unless it is necessary for the meetings.

12. Assign someone to take careful notes and email a memo highlighting what was accomplished to all attendees within 24 hours after the meeting. Document the responsibilities given, tasks delegated, and any assigned deadlines.

13. Gain alignment on decisions so that everyone speaks with “one voice” when sharing information with the rest of the organization.

14. Get clear on what information can be shared and what information should be kept confidential within the group.

15. If someone does not agree with a decision, they must agree to “disagree and commit.”

16. Be tough on ideas and easy on people.

17. Listen to others and don’t interrupt. Only one person speaks at a time.

18. The foundation of an effective meeting is open and honest dialogue. Make it safe for people to speak with candor and discuss difficult topics without fear of retribution. Handle differences or conflicts openly and positively.


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